Filmmaker Byron Hurt interviewed everyone from activists to chefs to health experts for his documentary “Soul Food Junkies”, and he was left with the conclusion that African Americans’ addiction to soul food is k!lling them. His film explores this addiction and will premier January 14 on U.S. public broadcasting television.
It seems that the cultural identity of African-Americans is linked to greasy and fatty foods, which African-Americans call ‘soul food’, and although ‘soul food’ may sooth the soul, it slowly kills the human body.
In the film, Hurt deals with the death of his own father, who died of pancreatic cancer. One of the leading causes of pancreatic cancer is the consumption of fatty foods.
“My father went from being young and fit to twice his size.”
Even so, Hurt says he never “really questioned what we ate or how much.” Hurt says he grew up on a soul food diet made up of foods like fried chicken, pork chops, macaroni and cheese, potatoes and gravy, barbecued ribs, sweet potato pie, collard greens, ham hocks and black-eyed peas.
“The history of Southern food is complex,” he said. “In many ways, the term soul food is a reduction of our culinary foodways.”
Why do blacks still have a diet high in saturated fat?
“There’s an emotional connection and cultural pride in what they see as the food their population survived on in difficult times,” he said.
But Hurt says our emotional connection to these foods is sending African-Americans to an early grave. Tradition and poverty are the main reasons blacks aren’t eating a nutrition rich diet, and are twice as likely to die of stroke before age 75 than other population groups.